We’ve reached a glorious part in our fandom where it’s reach extends across literal generations of people. The rarity of such a phenomenon should be celebrated by those who pass it on, and yet, the fandom insists on gatekeeping between age groups. Instances of such discourse can be found across social media platforms, and as in-person events begin to organize, there are a few characters we should revisit.
By including a younger officer on Starfleet’s flagship, Gene Roddenberry established early on that the experiences and skills of younger people are not only valid, but valuable in his vision of the future. Imagine the attention to detail teenaged Pavel possessed to earn a position like operations officer on the Enterprise. Think of the older, higher-ranked, and more experienced candidates he beat to get into that chair…
Taking the concept of “boy genius” to the next level, Wesley Crusher displayed exemplary comprehension of propulsion systems as they relate to space time. For some reason, the fandom likes to ignore the sheer volume of problems Wesley helped solve. His Starfleet career notwithstanding, this brilliance earned the respect and mentorship from a pan-dimensional scientist known as The Traveler.
An excellent example of breaking generational influences, Nog’s arc and character development illustrates the disproportionate obstacles working-class and low-income families experience in the pursuit of a higher quality of life.
Speaking of resisting generational influences, Jake became a journalist and author despite his father’s wishes for him to join Starfleet, as well as his grandfather’s wishes to be a chef. By following his own path, Jake was able to cover the Dominion War from his unique civilian position on Deep Space 9.
Naomi Wildman and the Borg Kids
At the age of sixteen, Adira has overcome every single obstacle placed before them. They have endured great loss and severe isolation, and still remain generous in spirit. Not only are they the only human to host a Trill symbiont, but their grasp of multiple forms of engineering is unprecedented.
With these examples and countless others, it’s difficult to understand why the elder Trek community shows such disdain for the perspectives of younger fans. Star Trek has always included the experiences of young characters to help shape the ideals that we all claim to embrace. Now that we know Prodigy is on the way, we can expect a broader example of what the vibrancy of youth can offer. The kids are alright.
*Author’s Note: Kes is not included in this list, because while young by human standards, she was physiology and mentally an adult within Ocampan culture.